Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Defending democracy

AI generated sketch of a very formal and ornate committee room
With a general election approaching in the UK, the UK's Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy (JCNSS) opened an inquiry into Defending Democracy "to better understand how threats to the UK’s democracy may evolve and be addressed."
Today the JCNSS published a statement relating to the written evidence provided by TikTok, Google/Youtube and Snap Inc (find downloads on this page) in which they outline what they are doing to combat misinformation and disinformation. The Chair of the JCNSS, Margaret Beckett makes a statement which includes the rather damning
".. I am concerned to see the huge disparity in approaches and attitudes to managing harmful digital content in the written evidence submissions we have received across companies from X, TikTok, Snap and Meta to Microsoft and Google. ... For a start, we expected social media and tech companies to proactively engage with our Parliamentary inquiry, especially one so directly related to their work at such a critical moment in our global history. And if we must pursue a company operating and profiting in the UK to engage with a Parliamentary inquiry, we expect much more than a regurgitation of some of its publicly available content which does not specifically address our inquiry. Much of the written evidence that was submitted shows - with few and notable exceptions - an uncoordinated, silo-ed approach to the many potential threats and harms facing UK and global democracy. The cover of free speech does not cover untruthful or harmful speech, and it does not give tech media companies a get-out-free card for accountability for information propagated on their platforms."
You can also read transcripts of evidence given orally to the committee by representatives of Meta, Ofcom etc.
Image created by Sheila Webber on Midjourney AI using the prompt: Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy, Defending democracy, disinformation, monotone sketch, United Kingdom --v 6.0 --ar 16:9

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